This story was originally published at Colingawel.com while the Earth was still cooling. Not long after, Pencilstorm was created so my smart friends could post their stories, too and make it more of a team effort. To be honest, I couldn’t remember if I had actually written a story about New Year’s resolutions or just thought I had. After 10 minutes of googling.. I found it. From January 3, 2013 …- Colin G. (2019)
Thanks to everybody who read "Hitless Wonder" or listened to "Brick and Mortar" in 2012. For reviews, the NPR story and basically a review of all the cool things that happened in the past year click here . It's cold out and "Superior" is edging towards 10,000 views. Watch it here
You Say You Want a Resolution, Well You Know, We All Want to Change the World.
People often ask me, "Colin, how do you manage to juggle so many things and do them all so well? What is the secret to your success?"
Actually, that isn't exactly true. It's phrased more like, "Colin...Jesus, you look exhausted, are you OK?"
Still, with a new year ringing in my ears along with the tinnitus, I would like to share my thoughts on successful habits and the value of New Year's Resolutions.
"From Small Things, Big Things One Day Will Come", isn't just an under rated Bruce Springsteen B-side, it is also a phrase that is coincidentally the backbone of my personal survival strategy. I'm not one for resolutions in the traditional sense. I don't enter a new year and proclaim, "This is the year I finally finish my screenplay, slash my online porn consumption and run the Boston marathon!". No sir, not me. While big goals are dandy and may work for some, I've come to understand that for myself, If I achieve small goals on a semi- daily basis, eventually some form of productivity emerges from the rubble of the Holiday season. In the New Year I re-dedicate and tweek my system to focus on goals to help me create things I enjoy. Off the top of my head and in no particular order this year I would like: To write good songs, Compile all my solo recordings and release as a full length, start a band called "Why Isn't Cheap Trick in The Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame" that plays Cheap Trick covers and calls attention to this gross injustice, record new Watershed music and play a show in Minneapolis, make a Willie Phoenix Wiki discography page and write a really long, stupid essay about KISS. If I hope to accomplish just one of these worthy goals, I need two things: Energy and Time Management.
Goal#1: Energy is everything. And I'm not talking about some sort of vague hippy energy or positive vibes or anything groovy like that. Or green energy or coal energy or energy drinks. No sir, I'm referring to actual "I'm not tired, I have some physical energy" energy.
See, "The Man" demands most my time working to break even at the coffee shop. As "President" of Colin's Coffee, my number one responsibility (outside of keeping the women's restroom clean) is to work as many hours for free as possible so everybody else gets paid. Once the bank, landlord, suppliers, utilities and employees are satisfied, I can continue working for free for another month. After the shop, my most important duty begins when I pick up Owen from school and give him some quality time doing whatever fun stuff he enjoys. You only get to be a parent once and I try to bring my 'A' game when the little guy and myself are together. Certainly, I'm not bringing the 'A' game to his college fund so some weekly trips to the zoo, one on one basketball, COSI and Dirty Frank's are the least I can do.
Creative time comes last. It may just be 45 minutes to work on a new song or essay about resolutions, but this is when I need some energy to do something worthwhile. If i want to write songs or stories or anything, it is my responsibility to make it happen. Sure, I had more time in my youth, but I do better work now ( I think) because I don't take free time for granted. For me, it is the 45 free minutes each day where the battle for an interesting life is fought.
ENERGY = Sleep + healthy food + Working out.
SLEEP: Be in bed reading a book by 9pm four nights a week so when I wake to go to the coffee shop at 5:30 am, i am semi rested for the upcoming day.
Healthy Food: when at the shop, no salt, sugar, bread or fat before noon. water, coffee, oatmeal, beans, veggies, etc.
Working Out: I have to pick up Owen at 2:50pm so from 1pm until then I hit the gym even just to break a sweat. something is better than nothing. It's not like I'm going to be an Olympic poll vaulter or anything.
Or put another way: Starting at 9pm and stretching over a 24 hour period to the following night when I go back to bed at 9pm. I figure I have slept, eaten right and exercised for 20 of the 24 hours. That is a pretty good percentage in the big scheme of things. By 5 pm my will power is shot and I usually take one small sip of red wine and a tiny hit of crack. Actually, I drink a beer or five, cook dinner and write things like this.
Life is Long. Time Is Short.
Like most, I'm a flawed person who enjoys giving into temptation as much as the next. The idea that I am going to do a month long body cleanse or give up something "forever" is laughable. At this point, I know myself pretty well and safe to say forcing any such scheme would surely antagonize the devil in me to likely produce the exact opposite result I was striving for. Besides, did you know that some egghead genius types claim, "willpower is a limited resource you have to conserve?". Well they do. Read it here
I try to break each day into 24 hours and then win 20 of those hours.
Goal #2-USE TIME SEMI WISELY: Maybe it was my Mom dying when I was relatively young or my life long infatuation with disasters, but I really don't take living for granted. I could die tomorrow and so could you. Tornado season is right around the corner. Shit happens. Would I like to spend my final hour listening to local sports talk radio? maybe. But I could probably do better. I've been trying to incorporate audio books to my workouts and drive time in the car. When there is free time at the coffee shop I try to hop on the computer and work on an essay or read a good book. Go hiking or take a walk when possible. I make an effort to stay offline and off the grid whenever possible. No matter how much fun, this is the #1 killer when it comes to spending time wisely. Airplane mode baby. To provide content, I can't spend all day scrolling through it. Exposure to art is good. Exposure to twitter ??
Resolution # 9......#9.......#9........#9..........#9.........#9.........#9..........#9........#9........#9.........#9.........#9
That doesn't mean anything but just going with the Beatles theme....
Reading back over this essay I am struck by two things: One: this is pretty boring and two: I think I make it sound like i actually execute this plan regularly. I don't. This is the goal, not the reality. Just last night I stayed up until 10:15 watching episode four of Homeland. Sunday I was drinking beer at band practice at 1pm. Still, having a plan is better than no plan at all.
To Recap - 1) Bed by 9pm- 2) no sugar, salt, bread or fat before noon- 3) break a sweat -4) stay offline 5) play audio books when driving.
Alas, that is the glory of the New Year Resolution. It provides all us weak-willed sinners a second chance to become our ideal selves. Isn't that what life is all about anyway? No matter what you have done in the past, it is always possible to have an outstanding day. And if you can have one, you can have two and from there you don't feel as guilty about the inevitable bender just over the horizon. Wishing us all good luck in 2013! - Colin
Colin Gawel is probably the last person on Earth who should be talking about resolutions. He has failed so spectacularly that a best-selling book "Hitless Wonders" was written about him and his band Watershed due to their historic lack of success. Yet, they happily press on. He is a father, husband, songwriter and coffee shop owner. He is currently trying to book his side band "Why Isn't Cheap Trick In The Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame?" at the Beachland Ballroom Thursday, April 18th, though the band, as of now, only exists in his head. Check out his music and more at www.colingawel.com